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More than £6,000 in fines issued as first revellers appear in court following illegal Banwen rave

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More than £6,000 in fines have been handed down to 11 people who travelled from across the country to attend an illegal rave in a South Wales community.

The four-day unlicensed music event, which had four stages and attracted between 3,000 and 4,000 people, was held in Banwen on August Bank Holiday weekend last year and was in breach of Coronavirus legislation.

At a special court hearing at Swansea Magistrates on Monday (January 11), the following each pleaded guilty to gathering outdoors with more than 30 people, contravening Welsh Government Coronavirus legislation:

  • Felix Blake, 28, of Easton, Bristol. He was fined £1,000, with a £100 victim surcharge and £85 costs;
  • Luke Horwood, 18, of Ayelsbury – £200 fine, £85 costs, £34 victim surcharge;
  • Zoe Malins 32, of  Newquay, Ceredigion –  £500 fine, £50 victim surcharge, £85 costs;
  • Dean Horwood, 37, of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire – £600, £85 costs, £60 victim surcharge;
  • George Baggaley, 23, of Alton, Hampshire – £500 fine, £50 victim surcharge, £85 costs;
  • James Anderson, 30, of Ebbw Vale – £1,000 fine, £60 victim surcharge, £85 costs;
  • Oliver Preece, 25, of Ebbw Vale –  £600 fine, £60 victim surcharge, £85 costs;
  • Rhys Cox, 26, of Didcot, Oxfordshire – £1,050 fine, £100 victim surcharge, £85 costs;
  • Julian Hammond, 24, of Bedford – £1,000, £100 victim surcharge, £85 costs. Hammond also pleaded guilty to a second charge under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, of failing to leave the land when requested. No separate penalty was imposed.
  • Jordan Venus, 25, Brislington, Bristol – £600 fine, £85 costs, £60 victim surcharge. The court also extended an existing 12-month suspended sentence by a further six months, after Venus admitted attending the rave while subject to the court order.

Sentencing each of the defendants individually, District Judge Chris James told them their actions in travelling to the event during a global pandemic, when clear restrictions were in place and “our public health services were bending under the strain”, was “wholly and utterly socially irresponsible”.

Addressing one defendant, the judge said: “The regulations were designed to prevent the spread of a serious virus, one that’s affected our nation and indeed the world. They were designed to protect the public. [Attending the rave] was a flagrant disregard to not only the regulations but to your own social responsibility.”

The defendants were told their individual actions contributed to the significant harm caused to the residents of Banwen. The court heard they were unable to sleep due to the amplified music, and were witness to antisocial behaviour including abusive and intimidating behaviour and litter, faeces and drug paraphernalia left in the streets.

The cases against 10 people who failed to attend were adjourned until January 29th. All face the same charge of gathering outdoors in Wales with more than 30 people, contrary to Welsh Government Coronavirus legislation.

A 36-year-old man will also appear on that date, to face a charge of being involved in organising the unlicensed music event.

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Coronavirus

Face coverings retained in health and social care settings

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First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will remain in place.

Speaking after the latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations, the First Minister said the public health situation was improving following the recent spike in cases caused by the BA.2 sub-type of omicron.

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But Covid case rates remain high so maintaining the use of face coverings in health and care settings will help to protect to some of the most vulnerable people in society, staff and visitors.

The First Minister also urged everyone to continue to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus by following a set of simple steps to protect one another and keep Wales safe.

These include self-isolating if ill or testing positive for Covid-19; wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places, meeting outdoors wherever possible; keeping indoor areas well ventilated and washing hands regularly.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The pandemic isn’t over but we are seeing encouraging signs the recent high levels of infections across Wales are falling.

“There are steps we can all take to protect ourselves while coronavirus is still circulating and reduce the spread of the virus even further. This is particularly true in places where some of the most vulnerable people in society are being treated and live, which is why we will retain the legal requirement to wear face coverings in health and social care settings.

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“More generally, ensuring you are up-to-date with your Covid vaccinations and spring booster – if you are eligible – is really important. If you have Covid symptoms or test positive, please stay at home and help break the chain of transmission.

“Together, we can carry on keeping each other safe and keeping Wales safe.”

The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 26 May.

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Coronavirus

Schools’ Covid guidance aligned to businesses and other workplaces

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The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has announced that Covid-19 measures for schools in Wales will be brought into line with guidance for businesses and other organisations.

The Welsh Government has written to schools in Wales this morning to inform them of the changes.

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Since September last year, schools have applied measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus according to local circumstances, based on the Local Covid-19 infection control decision framework for schools. Schools will no longer be advised to use the framework.

The change is in line with the Welsh Government’s long-term Covid-19 transition from pandemic to endemic. The risk from coronavirus is now considered in the same context as other communicable diseases, such as flu.

The First Minister has announced that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be removed from 9 May, if the public health situation remained stable. The changes to the guidance for schools will also come into effect from 9 May.

Schools and other education settings will continue to be advised to work with local authorities and public health advisors to ensure that measures remain appropriate and proportionate and reflect local risks and circumstances.

A checklist will be provided to support schools and settings in considering which control measures remain proportionate. Special schools will continue to follow the advice for children and young people with higher clinical risk and clinically extremely vulnerable adults.

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Speaking at the Welsh Government’s weekly press briefing, Jeremy Miles said: “In line with the wider public health guidance published at the last three-week review, we have today written to headteachers to signpost the impending changes to our advice for schools, which reflect the move from pandemic to endemic. This will ensure school guidance is more closely aligned with the rest of society.

“We all know that Covid-19 has not gone way. It remains vitally important we reduce the spread of the virus where we can – this includes, for example, following self-isolation guidance, and for education settings to continue to undertake robust risk assessments.”

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Coronavirus

Health board extends shuttle bus between Llanelli and COVID vaccination centre

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Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) has extended the free shuttle bus service between Llanelli town centre and the mass vaccination centre in Dafen to help people access their COVID-19 vaccination as easily as possible.

The shuttle bus, provided by Dolen Teifi, will continue to run between 10.30am to 4.40pm, seven days a week – with no service at 12.00pm from town or at 12.15pm from the mass vaccination centre to allow the drivers a lunch break.

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People can board the shuttle bus on the hour and at half-past the hour at Church Street, outside Llanelli Magistrates Court.

The shuttle bus will leave the mass vaccination centre quarter past and quarter to the hour, returning to the town centre and dropping passengers off opposite Llanelli library.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We need as many people as possible attending their COVID-19 vaccine appointments, or dropping in if eligible.

“This shuttle bus service is one of many additional resources and services being put in place across the Hywel Dda region to help support more people to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. I am pleased the shuttle bus service has been extended to help people reliant on public transport to access their COVID-19 vaccine.”

On 21 February 2022, the JCVI published a statement, recommending an additional spring booster.

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Strict COVID-19 safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers on this service, including wearing face coverings unless medically exempt.

A maximum of 14 passengers are allowed per journey with a screen in place between driver and passengers.

The health board say that passengers should only use this service if they are fit and well on the day.

They add that before travelling without an appointment to Dafen mass vaccination centre, people should check the health board’s website for up-to-date information such as vaccine eligibility and drop-in opening times.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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